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The Mavs have BY FAR the Worst 2nd Best Player in the Playoffs
First of all, it isn’t even clear who the second best player on the Dallas Mavericks is. It’s supposed to be Kristaps Porzingis, but his mere 12.7 ppg in these playoffs, as well as his inability to create his own shot in any capacity, make him a poor candidate to be their secondary option offensively. The only other logical option is Tim Hardaway Jr, a guy who came off the bench for the majority of the regular season and scored 16 a game from there. He’s averaging 18 ppg in these playoffs, but almost none of those are coming from his own creation; he usually finds shots within the flow of the offense, and I don’t think the Mavs EVER give him the ball with “go get a bucket” in mind.
The Other 15 Teams
The other 15 teams in these NBA playoffs not only have 2 players that are better than Hardaway, but many teams have 3 or even 4 guys that are better than him.
LA Lakers: Lebron James and Anthony Davis are both obviously better than Hardaway (I don’t need to provide much of an argument there). An argument could even be made that guys like Kuzma, Drummond, or Montrezl Harrell would be secondary scorers for a team like the Mavs. With so few guys that can create a shot on DAL, those 3 could definitely be a focal point of the offense at times.
PHO Suns: Devin Booker and Chris Paul - again, I don’t need to provide an argument here. I would even consider throwing Deandre Ayton in there, who can go to work in the post on certain guys and is a real anchor in the paint.
DEN Nuggets: This one is probably the closest, but Jokic and Michael Porter Jr are both definitely better than Hardaway, and have a far easier time creating their own shot. Obviously Jamal Murray, if healthy, would also be on this list.
LA Clippers: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and there are even a couple of other guys that I would consider putting here. Guys like Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris bring just as much, if not more, to a team than Tim Hardaway in terms of creating their own shot and facilitating for others.
POR Trail-Blazers: Damian Lillard, Cj McCollum, Norman Powell, and probably even Nurkic are all better than Tim Hardaway. If a guy like Norman Powell had a Hardaway-type role on DAL, he would probably be averaging more than 20 ppg on these playoffs.
UTA Jazz: Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Bojan Bogdanovic, and I might even say Joe Ingles. Just think about that for a second… their entire starting lineup is better than Tim Hardaway.
MEM Grizzlies: Ja Morant, Jonas Val, and Dillon Brooks are all definitely better than Tim Hardaway. Dillon Brooks would quite easily average 20+ ppg in these playoffs for the Mavs given the opportunities he would get. He averaged 25 being the 3rd option on MEM.
PHI Sixers: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris are 3 pretty clear ones here. I would also potentially even throw Seth Curry in there, a guy who’s made a leap this season and would be more impactful for DAL this year than he was in the bubble.
BKN Nets: KD, Kyrie, and James Harden… any arguments there? I would even grapple with the idea of throwing Joe Harris in there, although he doesn’t create his own shot. In terms of playing Tim Hardaway’s role, though, he would probably do it slightly better.
MIL Bucks: Giannis, Middleton, and Jrue Holiday are all certainly better than Hardaway. I personally think Brook Lopez is more valuable than Kristaps and Hardaway (especially on the defensive end) too, but I’m sure many NBA fans would disagree with that.
NY Knicks: Derrick Rose and Julius Randle. This team might come the closest to being as weak as DAL, but I would still definitely prefer DRose over Hardaway, because he can go get a bucket on his own.
ATL Hawks: Trae Young, Clint Capela, and Bogdan Bogdanovic are all better than Tim Hardaway. Bogdan can definitely create his shot better than Tim, and Clint’s vertical spacing allows him to be very productive on the court, especially on the defensive end and as a screener.
MIA Heat: Bam and Jimmy are clearly better, and I would throw Herro, Dragic, and maybe even Nunn on this list as well. Remember, you have to think about what these guys would do with the OPPORTUNITY they would get being the second go-to option on the Mavs, and being able to play off of Luka.
BOS Celtics: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Evan Fournier are all better offensive weapons than Tim Hardaway. Each can create their shot better, and are all similar shooters from the 3 point line. I would also take Rob Williams over Tim Hardaway and Kristaps Porzingis.
WAS Wizards: Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. This team only has 2 guys, but both are significantly better than Tim and provide way more offensively.
I say this all to make the point that what Luka is doing for the Dallas Mavericks right now is truly ridiculous. Not only in terms of scoring, but also in terms of how he gets his teammates involved and facilitates the offense throughout the game. He consistently makes the PERFECT pass out of the pick and roll double-team, which results in a 4 on 3 advantage that almost always concludes with an open 3 point jump shot or a layup at the rim. If you don’t double Luka, he’ll simply dominate you on the 3 point line and in the post, but doubling him is a death sentence. If the Mavs win this series, and even if they don’t, it’s time we start considering Luka as the best player in the NBA. In fact, if I had to start a team right now, I would choose Luka, and it wouldn’t take me much time to figure that out. This man is obscene.
To get an idea of the sort of impact this guy is having, look at how much higher Luka's usage is than even the next highest player. He's doing EVERYTHING for this team!
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